Restaurants to take on government in court over booze sales ban

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  • South Africa's eating establishments have been hit hard by Covid-19 and were closed during the hard lockdown, with some shutting down for good.
  • The Restaurant Association of South Africa is putting together a plan to support an application to the High Court to set the ban on liquor sales aside.
  • The association would not be drawn on whether it was joining South African Breweries' court application.


South Africa’s restaurant owners are moving to take government to court in a bid to have the ban on the sale of alcohol set aside.

The country’s eating establishments have been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 and were closed during the hard lockdown, with some shutting down for good. Although restaurants have since reopened and continue to operate during the current Level 3 lockdown, they do so under a strict curfew and can’t serve alcohol, which means they miss out on revenue from those sales.

The government imposed the ban on the sale of alcohol in December, after a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases that have now crossed over the 1.2 million mark.

In a note to restaurant owners, seen by Fin24 on Thursday, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) Wendy Alberts asked members to participate in surveys that would enable the association to collect data that would help with the court case, in support of an application by another party. 

"We [are] busy with a high-level structured plan with major industry stakeholders to legally assist our pleas to lift the Alcohol ban (sic) and to support an application in the High Court in getting the liquor [sales] ban lifted," Alberts said in the note.

She explained that RASA was working towards creating a link between the loss of alcohol sales to restaurants closing down, as well as the impact of the curfew to turnover.

Alberts confirmed the legal action but would not be drawn into commenting further, saying that restaurant owners were concerned about the state of the industry and thousands of workers were losing their jobs, while hundreds of restaurants were closing their doors.

"We certainly feel that we need to do everything to try and save the industry and responsibly lift the alcohol ban in the way that works for both the consumer and for the restaurants, as well as saving lives and livelihoods," said Alberts.

The RASA CEO added that the association had put together plans to show the government that that restaurants can serve alcohol responsibly and help flatten the Covid-19 curve.

The restaurant industry is not the only alcohol trader that is approaching the courts over the ban, with South Africa’s biggest beer maker, AB InBev-owned South African Breweries, taking legal action against the government to have the ban set aside.

Alberts would not provide details on who the group is supporting in court and whether it would be part of SAB’s application. 

"We can’t [make] any comments on it but we are certainly are going to do what we need to do to protect the livelihoods of the restaurateurs, as well as well as balancing lives and livelihoods," she said.

SAB would not confirm or deny that RASA was joining its court matter, referring the question to Alberts.

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